What is Phosphatidylcholine?
Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is one of the main components of the cell membrane. The cell membrane affects what nutrients or toxins can enter and leave the cell. An unhealthy cell wall will allow those nutrients and toxins to flow freely from inside the cell to outside, and vice versa. This is a problem because the cell wall needs to be able to keep nutrients vital for cell function in, and keep toxins that negatively affect cell function out. Lipids, or fats, are a big component of PC and play important roles in the energy storage and cellular communication throughout body.
In the body, phosphatidylcholine is a major supplier of choline, the precursor to acetylcholine (1) which is a neurotransmitter essential to proper muscle, brain, and nerve function. Acetylcholine is important for memory and is has been used in the treatment in Alzheimer’s disease.
As a precursor to the excitatory neurotransmitter acetylcholine, PC positively affects energy levels and helps reduce fatigue. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, women who were 40-60 years old reported an improvement in mood, decrease in menopausal symptoms and fatigue on the Profile of Mood States (POMS) psychological rating scale after eight-weeks of treatment with PC (2). In addition, in various athletic activities, PC supplementation has enhanced performance where exercise has depleted choline (3, 4). While more research is needed in this area, other populations with depleted choline concentrations who may benefit from PC supplementation include people with chronic fatigue and fatigue secondary to chronic health conditions. There is a growing understanding of the critical role the cell membrane lipids play in cells recovery. PC is one of the key membrane lipids, and its use has been suggested as an effective treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI) related to sports and other type of injures (5).
In a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, superiority study, phosphatidylcholine demonstrated greater efficacy and reduction in symptoms of patients with ulcerative colitis verses placebo after 21 weeks of treatment (6). More patients went into UC remission who were taking phosphatidylcholine verses placebo.
At Five Stones Wellness, we find that patients suffering from fatigue and chronic illness benefit from phosphatidylcholine supplementation.
Standard toxicological assessments indicate no significant acute or chronic toxicity from PC, as well as no mutagenicity and no teratogenicity. PC is well tolerated at daily intakes of up to 18 grams (7). PC is not recommended for people taking acetylcholinesterase (ACE) inhibitor medications since this combination may excessively increase acetylcholine levels and potentially cause cholinergic side effects.
1. Zeisel S., Blusztajn, J. (1994). Choline and human nutrition. Annual Nutrition Review 14:269-296.
2. Hirose, A, Terauchi, M., Osaka, Y., Akiyoshi, M., Kato, K., Miyasaka, N. (2018). Effects of soy lecithin on fatigue and menopausal symptoms in. middle-aged women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutrition Journal. 17(1):4.
3. Jäger, R., Purpura, M., Kingsley, M. (2007). Phospholipids and sports performance. Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition. 25;4:5.
4. Escalanete, G., Alencar, M., Haddock, B., Harvey, P. (2016). The effects of phosphatidylcholine supplementation on strength, body composition, muscular endurance, power, agility, and vertical jump in resistance trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 13(24).
5. Mousavi, S., Khorvash, F., Hoseini, T. (2010). The efficacy of citroline in the treatment of ischemic stroke and primary hypertensive intracerebral hemorrhage. ARYA Atherosclerosis. 6(3):122-5.
6. Karner, M., Kocjan, A., Stein, J., Schreiber, S., von Boyan, G., Uebel, P…. Stremmel, W. (2014). First multicenter study of modified release phosphatidylcholine “LT-02” in ulcerative colitis: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial in Mesalamine-refractory courses. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 109(7): 1041-1051.
7. Kidd, P. Phosphatidylcholine, a superior protectant against liver damage. Alternative Medicine Review. 1:258-274.